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Legal Terms: A Personal Injury Glossary

personal injury terms

Legal terms can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re in the middle of a personal injury case. You shouldn’t have to go to law school to know what we are talking about, so we created your very own Personal Injury (PI) Glossary. This list should help you get familiar with some words you may hear during your PI case. For more general legal terms, read 7 Common Legal Terms Explained.

Accident Report – A detailed, formal recording of an event documented from the scene of an accident by an authority figure, such as a police officer.

Alternative Dispute Resolution – The use of other methods besides litigation to resolve a legal dispute, like arbitration and mediation. See arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration – The hearing and settlement of a legal dispute between the plaintiff and defendant by a neutral third-party whose decision will usually be final.

Assignment of Benefits – A transfer of benefits provided by an insurance policy to another party.

Assumption of Risk – When a person voluntarily proceeds with a risk despite the known dangers involved.

Bodily Injury – Any damage to a person’s body, i.e. broken bones, bruises, burns, cuts, nerve damage, etc.

Burden of Proof – The plaintiff’s obligations to prove his or her allegations to be true and that specific elements have been met.

Causation – The act of making something happen.

Claim – A civil action relating to the physical or mental harm suffered by the plaintiff due to the negligence of the defendant.

Compensation – Something that makes up for a loss, usually of monetary value.

Damages – Payment, usually monetary, recovered in a civil court case for an injury or loss caused by another person’s negligence.

Duty – An obligation to provide a certain standard of care that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would use.

Expert Witness – A person who is allowed to testify at a trial because of special knowledge in a particular field that is relevant to the case.

Fault – An intentional or negligent failure to act reasonably, according to law, or according to duty.

Fraud – A blatantly false statement of fact intended to persuade another person to give up something valuable or a legal right he or she is entitled to.

Good Faith – Honest intent to fulfill a promise to act or to act without taking an unfair advantage of another person.

Gross Negligence – A conscious disregard of the need to use reasonable care, which is likely to cause foreseeable injury or harm to persons, property, or both.

Hazard – Conditions that increase the probability of damage or injury.

Insured – The individual protected under the insurer.

Insurer – The company that provides coverage through an insurance policy.

Liability – An obligation one is bound to by law to perform.

Limitation of Risk – The maximum amount an insurer is obligated to pay in any one loss event.

Loss – The monetary value assigned to an injury or damage in a personal injury claim.

Mediation – A non-binding method of resolving a case in which a neutral third party, agreed upon by both parties, helps the disputing sides to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Negotiation – To arrange or settle by discussion and mutual agreement.

Notice to Insurer – Also called notice to company, a written notice to the insurance company about an incident upon which a claim is based.

Occupational Disease – An illness caused by long-term employment in a particular line of work.

Personal Injury – The area of law which covers all physical, financial, and emotional injuries caused by another person or party’s negligence. For more information on PI, read How To Handle A Personal Injury Claim.

Prognosis – The anticipated chance of recovery from an injury, based upon the symptoms and nature of the particular case.

Proximate Cause – The primary reason why an injury or damage occurred and without which the accident would not have happened.

Statute of Limitations – A law that determines the period of time that someone has to file legal action, usually beginning when the injury or damage occurs.

Strict Liability – A legal doctrine that holds a defendant liable for harm caused by their actions regardless of their level of care.

Tort – A civil or private wrong committed against a person or property, resulting in legal liability.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) – An auto insurance policy provision that extends coverage caused by a motorist without enough insurance coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) – An addition to a standard automobile insurance policy that provides coverage in the event the other driver is both at fault for the accident and is not adequately insured. For more information on UM and UIM, read What Your Insurance Agent May Not Be Telling You About Your UM/UIM Policy.

Workers’ Compensation – Employer insurance providing compensation to employees for economic losses due to a job-related injury or illness. For more information on workers’ comp, read How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation?

Wrongful Death – A claim made on behalf of the survivors or beneficiaries of a person who has died as a result of wrongful conduct—either negligent or intentional.

If you have any more questions regarding personal injury claims or other legal work, contact the attorneys at Kelly & West today.

What Our Clients

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Oliver and Sherrie M. – Car Accident

“We were hit head-on by someone who run a red light. I got bruised up real bad inside and I had just had shoulder surgery and it inflamed that. My wife was hurt the worst. It disfigured her right arm. We were referred to Mr. West through our son-in-law so we went up and set an appointment with him. We went in and met him for the first time and he is a very nice gentleman to say the least. He took over the case and found out who the [driver] was. It had totaled the car and I had just gotten it paid off. They didn’t even get hurt. Mr. West took the case and went way out of his way to help. The lady who hit us … they had only the cheapest insurance to get the car on the road … so he helped us get more money to help us pay the bills. We are very happy with how it turned out. Kelly and West, they’re good people. You can talk to them and they’re down home people.”